A recent draftee of the Tigers, Thomas enjoyed a breakout 2007 campaign for the Brown Bears, setting school records in home runs (16), RBI (64), and runs (51); totaling a season that ranks among the best in Ivy League history. Unanimously named the Ivy League Player of the Year, Thomas led the league in home runs, RBI, runs, total bases, and slugging percentage. In addition to his Player of the Year honors, Devin took home first team All-Ivy and first team All-Northeast Region awards.
As a junior, Thomas again took home All-Ivy honors, on the back of a .324 average, five home runs, and seven stolen bases. After a successful third season, he played for Harwich of the Cape Cod League, helping lead the offense with a .263 average. During his first two years at Brown, Thomas took home second team and honorable mention All-Ivy marks, establishing a run of four straight years with League honors. As a freshman, Thomas played a mixture of catcher, first base, and left field, demonstrating his versatility on the diamond.
As a high school ball player, Thomas was a four-year letter winner for Eastside High in Gainesville, Florida, leading his squad to the 2001 District Championship. After hitting .350 during his senior campaign, he was named Eastside's Most Valuable Hitter.
Thomas is going to garner any prospect notoriety he receives based on his offense, not his defense. He has good power from both sides of the plate, pounding lefties with ease. His power from the left side is mostly doubles power, as he has learned to go the other way with regularity. His swing is smooth and quick from both sides, as he squares balls and drives them to all fields. He has a good approach at the plate, demonstrating a willingness to wait pitchers out, finding a pitch he can drive. He handles breaking balls well, and uses his experience as a catcher to his advantage in the box.
Defensively, Thomas needs substantial work. His receiving skills are rudimentary. He struggles framing pitches and often drops balls. He has demonstrated good agility behind the plate, using his strong athleticism to his advantage in blocking balls. His footwork is solid, but he can be prone to rushing his throws, leading to wildness and many stolen bases. His arm is barely average, and he needs to become quicker from the crouch to release. An intelligent catcher, Devin works well with his pitchers and calls a solid game.
As mentioned, he is a good athlete with good instincts in most facets of his game. He runs well for a catcher, having been routinely clocked in the high 6.7s in the 60-yard dash. Having played other positions in recent years, he could move to an outfield corner should his defense behind the plate not make strides.
Overall, Thomas has a solid chance to become a nice catching prospect; one who garners some consideration as a possible big league starter. His bat must continue the progress showed this spring, and he must make strides in receiving and throwing the ball.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
Thomas has avoided many of the typical nicks and knocks of catching, playing nearly every game throughout his high school and collegiate careers. His durability and athleticism should allow him to remain strong throughout the rigors of a professional season.
As expected, Thomas started the year with Oneonta, where he should handle most of the catching duties for the O-Tigers. It is easy to expect him to hit immediately, but the true test will be how he handles the pitching staff. If he does well, he could begin moving quickly next season. Expect Devin to get extensive work behind the plate during the instructional season, this fall.
The Tigers have shown a penchant for catchers with good gloves and suspect bats in recent years, and Devin Thomas seems to fly in the face of that trend. If he hits, he will be given plenty of opportunities to impress defensively, but should his offense suffer as a pro, his chances may be numbered.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.